Piet maybe a brilliant and promising student but he is strangled by crippling social anxiety and low self-esteem. His only carnal partner has been the internet and when he becomes close to paper writing partner Klara the dark incel inside him awakens.
For those that don’t know incel is shorthand for “involuntarily celibate” a term that dates back to 1993 and refers to the inability of an individual to find a romantic sexual mate in the face of social awkwardness, physical unattractiveness or mental illness. Characterised by misogyny, self-hatred and the labelling of attractive women as shallow this online subculture is generally regarded as one of the most toxic communities on the Web.
These concepts form the twisted nucleus of Linus de Paoli’s pristine psychological thriller. Minimalistic and disarmingly icy this ultra-modern, and occasionally graphic, shocker could easily be perceived as the origin story of an angry and dangerous incel.
A large portion of the film’s success hinges on Adam Ild Rohweder’s portrayal of Piet in what deserves to be a breakout role. His ability to refract the vulnerable elements of a human being that views themselves as “unfuckable” in order to generate empathy is astounding.
In depicting the horrific events that transpire with such unflinching intimacy the movie initiates a culture of voyeurism that leaves us making decisions along with the protagonist. Indeed, much of the emotional power of the picture comes from the guilty conclusion that for crucial stretches of the narrative we find ourselves rooting for this morally fractured young man.
The script is deliberately sterile in its precision, designed to complement the sparse setting and reflect the emotional clinicality of the main characters. In turn, the camera work is cohesive in its economy, detachment and objectivity.
Featuring intelligent dissections of the ethics of accountability, digital traceability and the exacerbation of alienation there is much to think about after the credits finally appear.
With the global rise of alt-right ideologies in a society where #MeToo is a vital movement many of the themes in this remarkably mature and brave film are more relevant than ever before.
Bradley Hadcroft | [rating=5]
Thriller | Germany, 2018 | 15 | 8th April 2019 (UK) | Digital HD | Signature Entertainment | Dir.Linus de Paoli | Adam Ild Rohweder, Paulina Galazka, Amanda Plummer, Pit Bukowski, Vania Bajdarova